Everything does pass, and we can endure and we can survive!! – Rahul Dravid
What is the Soul that we are talking about? Does such a thing as Soul exist at all? The belief is that there is a Cosmic Soul [Supreme Soul, Brahman, God], and the individual Soul is a reflection of it. The Individual Soul is a witness in the body while Brahman [Supreme Consciousness, God] has as its body the Creation [Universe of all universes] and remains there as a witness.
The Individual Soul has lost itself in the forest of aging, anger, anguish, arrogance, attachment, bad conduct and habits, captious speech, cunning, deceit, delusion, desire, dislikes, disobedience, disregard, disrespect, ego, enmity, evil association, evil tendencies, fear, gossip, greediness, hatred, hunger, idleness, illness, immaturity, impatience, jealousy, lethargy, lust, misery, prejudice, pride, rudeness, selfishness, sluggishness, slumber, sorrow. All these and more are continuously nurtured by the Creation [the wicked part of it, Maya]. Oh my God, what a forest it is? It seems to be worse than the ‘chakravyuh’ where Abhimanyu got caught! Can one really find a way out? Every individual Soul has to find its way back to its original source.
Can we trace its origin? There is nothing like tracing the origin of the Soul. It exists at all time and space. Bhagavat Gita asserts thus: [Chapter II] 12-Never was there a time when I was not, nor thou, nor these lords of men, nor will there ever be a time hereafter when we all shall cease to be. It takes us to a further question of ‘Creation’ itself. The Soul exists as long as the ‘Creation’ exists. A kind of relativity theory works here. If one can travel beyond the Creation, the individual Soul as well as the Creation, all things disappear or merge in the Supreme Soul.
Soul’s nature [Indestructible]
The Vedas and Upanishads talk of immortality of the Soul. Bhagavt Gita: [Chapter II] 17-Know thou that that by which all this is pervaded is indestructible. Of this immutable being, no one can bring about the destruction. 20-He is never born, nor does he die at any time, nor having [once] come to be will he again cease to be. He is unborn, eternal, permanent and primeval. He is not slain when his body is slain. 25-He is unclevable, He cannot be burnt. He can be neither wetted nor dried. He is eternal, all pervading, unchanging and immovable. He is the same forever. [Chapter VII] 5-This is my lower nature [the five elements, mind, understanding, self sense]. Know my other and higher nature which is the Soul, by which the world is upheld, O Mighty armed [Arjuna]. Siva Vakkiyar சிவவாக்கியார், a Siddhar says ஆத்மா அழிவதில்லை‘Athma’, the Soul is indestructible.
கோயிலேவது ஏதடா குளங்களாவது ஏதடா கோயிலும் குளங்களும் கும்பிடும் குலமாரே
கோயிலும் மனத்துள்ளே குளங்களும் மனத்துள்ளே ஆவதும் அழிவதும் இல்லை இல்லை இல்லையே
Everything, the God, the Temple, is within you, you are that. Never, never ever IT is destructible.
உடம்பு உயிர் எடுத்ததோ உயிர் உடம்பு எடுத்ததோ உடம்பு உயிர் எடுத்தபோது உருவம் ஏது செப்புவீர்
உடம்பு உயிர் இறந்தபோது உயிர் இறப்பதில்லையே உடம்பு மெய்மறந்து கண்டுணர்ந்து ஞானம் ஓதுமே
Who can say whether the body got the Soul or the Soul the body? The body may be dead but Soul of that is alive. If one realizes this then ஞானம் ‘knowledge of IT’ dawns.
Journey of Soul
Journey of the Individual Soul is inevitable. It is all the more mysterious than birth or death! I often wonder and ponder “where have they [those dead] gone” [in Hindi kahan gaye oh lok]. Is life itself anything less mysterious? As Adi Sankaracharya says punarabi jananam, punarabi maranam; birth, death and birth, again and again, caught irretrievably in that vicious circle. This is the journey the individual Soul undergoes so as to perfect and refine and find its root, source. The journey of soul may be inevitable but not fatalistic.
On knowing Soul
All is one. There is only one source from which all spring up. Bhagavt Gita: [Chapter XIII] 30-When he sees that the manifold state of beings is centred in the One and from just that it spreads out, then he attains Brahman.
When the variety of nature and its development or evolution is traced to the Eternal One, then it is true attainment of Knowledge. It means that the realization of ‘non-difference’ is true knowledge. At this time of realization we come to know that the whole thing was dream like. Nadakame ulagam, athil nam ellam nadikarkal நாடகமே உலகம், அதில் நாம் எல்லாம் நடிகர்கள். This world was stage and each one of us played our part in it. Once the drama was over and stage removed where was the stage or actor? When such true knowledge [coming to know and realization of Soul] dawns in one, such a one becomes a Jeevan-Mukta. How does such a person live? He lives with jiva-karunyam, being kind and merciful to the whole of the nature. Such a Jivan-Mukta sees the past, present and future all at a time!
Nachiketan’s journey to understanding Soul
Katha Upanishad speaks of him. Nachiketan goes to Yama Loka [Lord Yama’s abode] to meet and learn from him about the nature of Soul and Supreme Soul also known as Brahman [note it is not Brahmin which means a community]. In pursuit of his search for knowledge, to learn, even at that young age he chooses to put aside all that is material. Through this Upanishad we come to learn about what Nachiketan learned from Lord Yama. It is about realization of Self [Ramana Maharshi’s core teaching], that the Soul is different from body, that Brahman is ‘one’ and that only the Brahman is supreme. Nachiketan also learns about ‘freedom from bondage’, ‘moksha’ or liberation which removes the cycle of birth-death-rebirth.
Body is made of the five elements. Generally the Siddhars make very contemptuous remarks about the body. This is what Pattinathar பட்டினத்தார் says on body.
ஊற்றை சரீரத்தை யாபாசக்கொட்டிலை ஊன்பொதிந்த பீற்றத்துருத்தியை சோறிடுந்தோற்பையைப் பேசரிய
காற்றிற்பொதிந்த நிலையற்ற பாண்டத்தை காதல் செய்தேயேற்றித் திரிந்திவிட்டேனிறைவா கச்சியேகம்பனே
The body is troublesome, shed holding filth, concealed with flesh, squirting pipe, leather bag to place food, filled with air, mud pot of impermanence. Yet we get attached to it so much and feel proud. Oh my God so have I wandered and wasted life! All of us are well aware of another quote. காயமே இது பொய்யடா வெறும் காற்றடைத்த பையடா ‘kayame idhu poiyada, verum katru adaitha paiyada’ kayam means body. This body is a false appearance, untruth and impermanent. It is just a ‘bag filled with air’! Parakayam, the Universe, is put in equal pedestal as the ‘body’ by the Siddhars. The wintness in the ‘parakayam’ is the Brahman.
Body, necessary evil
Body, to the Siddhars, is ‘thucham’ துச்சம் insignificant [low, non-existent, unstable, unworthy]. Though Siddhars project the body in this not so palatable manner, Body is, nevertheless, a necessary evil. It is the implement, instrument, vehicle for us to obtain perfection, a higher state and liberation. It consists of, amongst other things, ‘brain’ which is the conduit to ‘mind’ which mind in turn connects to Soul. Soul is only a ‘witness’. It is the body which is the ‘bhogta’ ‘experiencer’. That is why even after one’s death another body [subtle body-sukshuma sarir] is provided so as to experience the heaven and hell!